Friday, April 13, 2007

Thursday morning my father was getting ready for work when he received a call from a sweet young woman asking for him by first name. The caller ID said "JBL Management" with a 410 area code -- Maryland, the parts away from the city.

"I was hoping," the young lady said with a gentle country lilt, "that you'd be able to perform a Jewish wedding ceremony in October."

My father paused. "Um, I think maybe you've dialed the wrong number, Miss. I'm not a rabbi."

"Oh, I know," she said, "I was looking for a rabbi or a cantor."

"And how exactly did you find me?" my father asked. I wasn't there but I imagine the brusque tone he effects for telemarketers softened then, as he recognized the woman's mistake miles before she'd see the sign. The man has the patience of a saint. Or a father of four.

"Well my boss told me to secure an officiant for our client's wedding -- a rabbi or a cantor, since they're a Jewish couple -- so I did a Google search and found your name."

"I see," my father said. "Well, I am a Cantor, Miss, but unfortunately in name only."

"Oh."

A few seconds into the uncomfortable silence that followed Dad realized the message wasn't getting through.

"What I mean is, 'cantor' and 'rabbi' are job titles, but they can also be names. For example..." I can just imagine my father leaning on his arm against the kitchen counter at this point, settling into the lesson he was about to impart; he does love to teach. He explained that a goldsmith named, say, Joe Rabbi might be the go-to guy to craft her clients' wedding bands, but he would not be qualified to declare them man and wife. Rabbi Joe Goldsmith, however, would be of more use on their wedding day.

The woman thanked my father, hung up the phone and probably scratched a few more names off her list.

I just hope the little bumpkin figures things out before the clients ask her to plan a bris.